by Lovely-Joanne A. Diala
If I were to use one word to describe SAFIRE's first-ever retreat held at Occidental Arts & Ecology Center, that word would be friendship. Our weekend was filled with fun and laughter, tons of picture taking, and was a time for the girls to really bond with each other and - as the girls called us - the adults.
On top of all the fun we had, the weekend was also about strengthening and building confidence in the girls. Their deeper relationships and confidence helped bring out the leadership that will help them in the climate justice and strong families workshops they'll be facilitating for local youth organizations in the coming weeks.
I noticed that girls who were normally quiet during program days in the office, let loose and showed their louder side. I know these girls are not only ready to facilitate other youth in making the connection between climate justice and strong families but to also carry themselves in a strong and powerful way, both as a team and individually. These girls, many of whom I've known since summer, have grown so much and I can't to see them shine among their peers.
In my last week with ACRJ, and the last couple days working with the SAFIRE girls, this retreat was the perfect way to end my time here. It's bittersweet but the memories will always live on through these photos.